England once again took the honours in the International Arena Polo Test Match at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead, seeing off their rivals from the rest of the British Isles to maintain their unbeaten record and retain the Bryan Morrison trophy.
The team of captain Chris Hyde (the highest rated arena polo player in Britain, with a handicap of 9), Tarquin Southwell (7) and Roddy Williams (7) faced strong opposition from the British Isles team, captained by Jamie Morrison (8) alongside Seb Dawnay (8) and Maurice Ormerod (6).
The teams were neck-and-neck for the first half of the game, with the British Isles team finishing the first chukka one goal clear (4-3). England pulled it back to an 8-8 draw by the end of the second chukka, but by the third the home team began to stamp their authority, drawing three goals ahead with the scoreboard showing 12-15 to England.
A couple of goals from the British Isles team took the score back to 14-16 with 3min 30sec on the clock, but England quickly restored the three goal lead, with another two soon following. An impressive shot by England’s Roddy Williams with just 23 sec to go saw England seal a convincing victory, with a final score of 14-20.
“I don’t think the score did the game justice. It was 8-8 at half time and could have gone either way, but during the break we had a bit of a conflab, changed a few things and that was the turning point,” said England’s Chris Hyde, who was also crowned Most Valuable Player.
Chris also paid tribute to the facilities at the All England Polo Club at Hickstead. “The surface and arena is the best in the country,” he praised.
John Bunn, chairman of the AEPC, pronounced the day a resounding success. “The International Test Match was an excellent game of polo – very technical for the first few chukkas and then it opened up a bit,” he said. “I’m delighted with how it went – amazing weather, a very good crowd and it’s brilliant to have the best players in the country coming down to Hickstead and saying how good our facilities are.”
In the first match of the day, the Clogau 12 Goal Challenge, Wales beat the Commonwealth team 18-17 when the match had to go to an extra chukka and a ‘golden goal’ sudden death finish.
Representing the winning team was captain Ricky Cooper (0), Peter Webb (6) and Roddy Matthews (4), while playing for the Commonwealth team were team captain Jonathan Munro Ford (0), Howard Smith (6) and Dean Lines (4).
Clogau, the proud sponsors of the Wales polo team, generously donated stunning Welsh gold cuff links to the winning teams and a Clogau watch to the Most Valuable Player, which was presented to Peter Webb by Clogau’s Brand Manager, Sonia Menezes.
The arena polo season at Hickstead culminates in the End Of Season Champagne Pommery Challenge Final on Saturday 9 March. The All England Polo Club’s eighth polo season kicks off once again in October 2013, with an open weekend for new and existing members.